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Friday, May 10, 2019

The joy of spring and the benefit of almsgiving to the Lotus Sutra's votary

"I WAS very happy to receive the letter written by the priest Hōki. The joy we feel at the beginning of spring is like the blossoms that open on the trees or the plants that spring up in the mountains. I, as well as others, am filled with joy. I have duly received the gifts noted in your list, namely, one sack of rice, one sack of salt, thirty slabs of steamed rice cake, and one sack of taros.

Here in the remote mountains the snow falls for three days at a time, until it is over ten feet deep in the garden. The valleys turn into peaks, and the peaks seem to be laddering up to the sky. Birds and deer gather around my hermitage, but no woodcutters or herdsmen venture into the mountains. My clothes are thin, my food supplies exhausted. Nights I am no better off than the cold-suffering bird, and in the daytime I think constantly of going down to the village. The sound of voices reciting the sutra has ceased, my religious meditations grow thin, and I grieve to think that, should I falter in my practice in this present existence, I must go on suffering for major world system dust particle kalpas or for numberless major world system dust particle kalpas. But with these gifts of yours my life has been restored, and I am delighted to think that we may soon meet in person.

In the past, when the Buddha was still an ordinary mortal, in a turbulent age troubled by the five impurities he nourished the starving votaries of the Lotus Sutra and thereby was able to attain Buddhahood. And if the words of the Lotus Sutra are true, then because of the merit [you have gained by your gifts], there can be no doubt that your deceased father has already achieved Buddhahood.

Your late brother Gorō too has by now journeyed to the pure land of Eagle Peak, where your father is patting him on the head. Just thinking of this, I find I cannot hold back my tears.

With my deep respect,


The twentieth day of the first month

Reply to Ueno

[To Hōki]: I am sorry to trouble you, but may I ask you to read this letter to Ueno and make sure he understands the contents."

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